Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Committee of Commerce, 21 July 1779

From the Committee of Commerce

LS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Commercial Committee Philadelphia
21st July 1779

Dear Sir

By a Letter dated New Orleans 10th April last from Oliver Pollock Esquire Continental Agent at that place is the following Paragraph. “I have this day drawn on Messrs. Samuel and J.H. Delap sundry Bills amounting to 10,897 Dollars at 90 days sight, but as it is still uncertain whether Mr. Geronimo la Chapelle8 will be there when they arrive, or that Messrs. Delaps may have funds of mine in their hands to do honor to those Bills, I have taken the liberty of writing the Honble. Benjamin Franklin Esqr. your Ambassador at Paris very minutely on this subject9 in order he may see those Bills paid for the credit of the States: I have taken this precaution in consequence of your Letter of the 12th June 1777 wherein you desire me to let you know on what terms I can sell Bills on France or Spain.”1

Now Sir, as this Gentleman in purchasing many necessaries by Orders from the Committee of Commerce is largely in advance (say about 70,000 Dollars) for the United States, and thereby greatly distressed, nor is it in our power at present to give him relief until new Flour is brought to Market, an Article much wanted there, and the only one in our power to reimburse him with. In order to prevent the evil that will inevitably ensue to him as well as to the honor of these States should those Bills be protested, induces us most earnestly to request your interference in this matter, so as to prevent the Bills being protested, and please to advise us with the result.

We have the honor to be With the greatest respect and esteem Your Excellency’s Most humble Servants

signed by order
Fra: Lewis2

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esquire Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America at the Court of France.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8With whom Pollock had signed an agreement involving the exchange of pelts from Louisiana for goods from Bordeaux: Pollock to Committee of Commerce, Aug. 11, 1778 (National Archives). Pollock later spelled his name Lachiapella: Pollock to William Pickles, Jan. 20, 1780 (National Archives).

9XXIX, 303–4.

1The committee’s letter had appointed Pollock its agent in New Orleans: National Archives; James A. James, Oliver Pollock: the Life and Times of an Unknown Patriot (New York and London, 1937), pp. 113–14.

2Francis Lewis of New York, one of the five members of the committee. He had served with BF on the committee’s predecessor, the Secret Committee: XXII, 204; JCC, XII, 1217.

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